By Jim Hayes
In the wake of the G7 meeting in Italy and Donald Trumps intransigence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has wasted little time in distancing from the United States.
There has been bad blood between the leaders for some time. But this is more than a mere dummy spit. It marks growing tension between the European Union and the United States that is more profound than a spat between two leaders.
Merkel said it all when she declares: “The times in which [Germany] could fully rely on others are partly over. I have experienced this in the last few days,” Merkel said during the event. “We Europeans really have to take our destiny into our own hands.”
She may hot have mentioned the United States by name. But what who she was talking about has not been lost on anyone. There are also implications for Great Britain, after the Brexit decision and the ongoing drift from Europe and towards the United States. The result did not fit Germany’s agenda.
Germany is the major power of Europe and the decisive force in the European Union and it is flexing its muscle, wanting unchallenged authority over its own sphere. And this is exactly what is being consolidated.
Merkel defined the G7 gathering as “difficult” and “unsatisfactory”.
In the matter of international trade, the German led European Union pushes for trade liberalisation, while Washington moves to a protectionist stand.Trump recently threatened to keep German made cars out. Germany and Europe want access to the American market. This is being blocked. For its part, the United States, which has less interest and capacity to export what it manufactures, wants investment financial entry into Europe. Barriers remain and Germany is leading the continent on the ramparts.
Deepening the already existing tension is that Europe has progressed further in adopting new clean technologies and taking on the challenge of global warming.Germany is a leading force in the manufacture of new clean technologies. The United states is more thoroughly locked into the old economy and is reluctant to change this. Germany has just about rid itself of fossil fuel use and the United states seems to be re-embracing it.
Trump’s Mexican wall promise is infamous. Whether is actually comes about is secondary to the basic fact that there has been a turn around, towards an anti-refugee and anti-immigration policy. Meanwhile, Germany has been much more accommodating. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have been allowed in. This imposes a considerable burden and the American closed door policy is not winning any friends.
Germany and other European countries were also attacked by Trump for not spending enough on NATO and on defense in general.Views on both issues are diverging significantly. Washington opts for a more heavy handed military approach to deal with differences on the world stage. The European Union, no doubt partly conditioned by Russia on its doorstep, prefers a lighter military approach, backing up diplomatic pressure and containing military expenditure within 3 percent of GDP.
The consequence of the growing differences is the new focus is on building the German-Franco alliance as the means to consolidate Europe into a more coherent block that will challenge for the title of the world’s number one economic and political force.